A blog post by my second son, Ryan, that I thought should be shared with all. Not only am I rightfully proud of it but I agree wholeheartedly with everything that he has said here. It all bears thinking about.
This is a chapter I wrote for a book I'm trying to finish this spring, but it was so much fun to write I just had to share it.
I think that no one can ever be really complete as a human being without changing a dirty diaper at least once in his life. I know you can’t tell, because you can’t see my face as I write this, but I am not joking. I have my serious face on. Not only do I think that diaper changing is necessary, I would especially recommend a really messy one, you know, where the fecal matter is so plentiful you wonder how so much could possibly come out of one single tiny individual, where it is leaking out both legs and drifting up the back. I’m still not joking.
Why, you ask? Because I have discovered no better way to learn service. Caring for lepers or AIDs patients might surpass diapering, but they are either in short supply, or in need of specially trained care that most of us are not qualified to render. Dirty diapers are fairly common occurrences and almost everyone is qualified. There is just something about cleaning up another human being’s, even a very small one’s, poop (or vomit for the matter of that) that brings you closer to them. It creates a special bond. More importantly, it makes it harder to take yourself seriously. Of course it is still possible. Anyone can continue to think themselves a big deal, even while wondering how poop gets in socks, if they are just willing to put in the effort, but it’s a fragile effort. At any moment the truth might break through and the unending internal mantra of “I’m important, I’m important, I’m important,” might start to echo a little hollow. If the humor of the situation ceases to escape you, it’s only a matter of time before truth comes tiptoeing in with all the delicate grace of a herd of galloping elephants.
I write of that which I know, with the memory of many infant foster siblings rising before my eyes as I write. It is something which I discovered about myself a long time ago, that I can do nearly anything for anyone as long as it is hard enough. If it is hard enough and challenging enough I’ll do it just for the fun of it, never mind anyone else. All this demonstrates is a rather backwards set of priorities. It isn’t that that mantra I mentioned above is wrong. I’m not saying that I’m not important. I am important. I am infinitely important, but that’s not really what I say when I tell myself that is it? When I have to remind myself that I am important, isn’t that a good indication that I am feeling unimportant? If I were really convinced that I mattered, would I have to say it to myself? And even though I do matter, why is that? Why is it that I have the infinite importance that I claim to have? I certainly didn’t earn it. All of my brains, muscles, and accomplishments can’t earn me infinite importance, only relative importance and precious little of that.
I have this importance, this worth, this value, because it was given to me. Someone else made me valuable. All of my qualities are gifts, I can lay claim to none of those. My use of those qualities, such as have been good uses, are all of grace. I can lay claim to none of those either. I can claim nothing in this whole world that could possibly make me important. I am important because someone has claimed me. God has claimed me as His own, and Jesus has paid that claim in . C. S. Lewis wrote in “The Silver Chair,” “Even the Lion wept: great Lion tears, each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond.” Jesus wept over me, He sweat over me, and He paid the last drop of His for me. If every drop of that is more valuable than the entire universe, how valuable does that make me?
This is importance that builds up. It doesn’t puff up, it builds up. Because it rests on someone else, I don’t have to sustain this importance through my own actions, which are not always the best. I don’t have to rely on my muscles which will grow old and weak, even if they don’t get damaged beyond repair first. I don’t have to rely on my brain, which misses things. I don’t have to rely on my looks (thank God for that!) I can rely on God to hold me and build me up, and in His strength I will have such strength that I will not have enough ways to burn it, so I will have strength to spare. I can be prodigal with it.
But that’s not really all that the “I’m important mantra” has to say, is it? It really says, “I’m more important.” It doesn’t matter what or whom I think I’m more important than, it is the “more” that is the problem. With that one word I start comparing myself, basing my importance on something other than my adoption as a son of God. That is competition, and competition with what? When a diaper needs to be changed, could I actually think that thought out loud? “I’m more important.” More important than whom? A baby? Am I actually competing with an infant? Am I so insecure as that that I can’t serve an infant?
Jesus washed feet; not cute little baby feet, mind you, ugly, hairy, dirty man-feet, in an era before pedicures and wart removers and showers were invented.
Can we do less? If we are so important, why do we make a big deal over such a small thing? After all, what could be smaller than a baby’s butt?